Port Authority Approves $30-Million Project At Stewart Int. Airport in Orange County

John Jordan | February 2018

NEW YORK—The tremendous success of international air service by Norwegian Airlines at Stewart International Airport in Orange County has prompted the Port Authority to expand services at the airport based in New Windsor in Orange County.

Stewart International Airport will undergo a major expansion with the addition of a $30-million permanent U.S. Customs inspection area to handle the airport’s significant rise in international passengers over the past year, under a measure approved on Feb. 15 by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners.

Following a breakout 2017 in which passenger volumes at the Hudson Valley airport rose 62%, Port Authority Commissioners also approved giving the agency’s Executive Director the authority to proceed with efforts to potentially change the airport’s name as part of a rebranding initiative aimed at increasing its appeal as a travel option to the New York metropolitan region, especially for foreign travelers.

A new name—New York International Airport at Stewart Field—has been floated by state government officials, as well as the Port Authority. Additionally, with the goal of increasing private flight activity at Stewart by as much as 20%, the Port Authority Board authorized an agreement with Signature Flight Support to build a new hangar dedicated to private planes.

Last year, nearly 450,000 commercial airline passengers used Stewart International Airport, including 141,000 international fliers, fueled in large part by the launch of service by Norwegian Airlines. The 2017 passenger levels at the airport were up from approximately 275,000 total passengers from a year earlier. Future enhancements to the airport will include a carport with a solar panel roof covering 450 spaces, with a request for proposal on the project slated to be issued soon. The green initiative will create 1.9 megawatts of power that will be used to offset energy costs at the expanded terminal.

“Economic development is one of the Port Authority’s fundamental missions and expanding Stewart International Airport to handle more international customers does exactly that,” said Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “Since taking over the airport in 2007, this agency has now invested more than $200 million in the airport’s infrastructure. Today’s approval further underscores our commitment to giving customers at Stewart a higher level of service, while providing the opportunity for further growth and tourism in the Mid-Hudson Valley and New York metropolitan region.”

“Expanding the terminal supports Governor Cuomo’s vision of an airport that increases flight activity and passenger volume, and provides the level of service and amenities that should be expected of a world-class facility,” said Board Vice-Chairman Jeffrey Lynford.

On Feb. 26, Norwegian Airlines announced that beginning April 26 Norwegian’s daily nonstop flights from Dublin to New York, will increase to a twice-daily service at Stewart. The new early morning departure at 8:10 a.m. will offer passengers the earliest flight from Dublin to New York, which lands at 10:30am local time. The convenient flight schedule will give passengers several hours to shop at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in New York State and depart for Dublin at 8:30pm the same evening.

Thomas Ramdahl, chief commercial officer at Norwegian said, “More than 130,000 passengers have flown Norwegian between Ireland and the USA since flights commenced last July, and today marks our continued expansion by introducing twice-daily Dublin-New York flights.”

Norwegian Airlines first launched transatlantic flights from Dublin to Stewart International Airport in New York State and Providence, RI last summer. The airline currently offers 29 weekly transatlantic flights from Ireland.

In his annual State-of-the-State address in early January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Port Authority to approve the investment in a permanent U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection facility to increase access to the region’s world-class destinations and mid-Hudson Valley attractions. The goal was to encourage growing international passenger use of the airport by separating domestic and international operations so the airport can handle both efficiently at the same time.

The expansion will add nearly 20,000 square-feet of space to the existing terminal, while improving travelers’ experience by allowing concurrent domestic and international flight arrivals. The new federal inspection area will provide capacity to screen up to 400 international passengers per hour.

Currently, Stewart lacks a dedicated area to process passengers from international flights, which are handled by using a moveable wall to section off part of the terminal. This creates an inconvenience for domestic passengers using the terminal at the same time. Construction of a dedicated Federal Inspection Service facility for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will greatly ameliorate this and streamline processing of the growing number of international passengers using the airport.

The expansion is expected to have immediate and lasting regional economic impact, with the projected creation on-site of 140 jobs and $10.6 million in wages. The total regional impact is expected to be 230 total direct and indirect jobs, $17.5 million in wages and $45 million in economic activity.

Commenting on the Port Authority’s latest investment at Stewart Airport, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said, “This is an important step in continuing to grow Stewart Airport as a viable alternative to overcrowded New York City airports for international travel. The construction of the state-of-the-art FIS facility will benefit not only Orange County, but the entire region. Stewart Airport continues to be an important part of the County’s aggressive economic development initiative and this decision is both commended and appreciated.”

Neuhaus also applauded the Port Authority for agreeing to allow Signature Flight Support Corporation to build a 28,000 square-foot hangar and Fixed Base Operator terminal and hangar at Stewart Airport. It will be the first hangar built at Stewart Airport since 2005.

“Great things are on the horizon for Orange County,” Neuhaus added. “These changes at Stewart International Airport are key to making them happen.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth